The Psychology of Your Future Self and How Your Present Illusions Hinder Your Future Happiness | Brain Pickings
Geege Schuman stashed this in Happiness
There is no finish line:
Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think theyâ€™re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people youâ€™re ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.
Gilbert explores this paradox in greater, pleasantly uncomfortable-making, strangely reassuring detail inÂ Stumbling on HappinessÂ â€” one of theseÂ essential books on the art-science of happiness. He writes:
What would you do right now if you learned that you were going to die in ten minutes? Would you race upstairs and light that Marlboro youâ€™ve been hiding in your sock drawer since the Ford administration? Would you waltz into your bossâ€™s office and present him with a detailed description of his personal defects? Would you drive out to that steakhouse near the new mall and order a T-bone, medium rare, with an extra side of the reallyÂ badÂ cholesterol?
The things we do when we expect our lives to continue are naturally and properly different than the things we might do if we expected them to end abruptly. We go easy on the lard and tobacco, smile dutifully at yet another of our supervisorâ€™s witless jokes, read books like this one when we could be wearing paper hats and eating pistachio macaroons in the bathtub, and we do each of these things in the charitable service of the people we will soon become. We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of most of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy. Rather than indulging in whatever strikes our momentary fancy, we take responsibility for the welfare of our future selves, squirreling away portions of our paychecks each month soÂ theyÂ can enjoy their retirements on a putting green, jogging and flossing with some regularity soÂ theyÂ can avoid coronaries and gum grafts, enduring dirty diapers and mind-numbing repetitions ofÂ The Cat in the HatÂ so that somedayÂ theyÂ will have fat-cheeked grandchildren to bounce on their laps. Even plunking down a dollar at the convenience store is an act of charity intended to ensure that the person we are about to become will enjoy the Twinkie we are paying for now. In fact, just about any time wewantÂ something â€” a promotion, a marriage, an automobile, a cheeseburger â€” we are expecting that if we get it, then the person who has our fingerprints a second, minute, day, or decade from now will enjoy the world they inherit from us, honoring our sacrifices as they reap the harvest of our shrewd investment decisions and dietary forbearance.
[But] our temporal progeny are often thankless. We toil and sweat to give them just what we think they will like, and they quit their jobs, grow their hair, move to or from San Francisco, and wonder how we could ever have been stupid enough to think theyâ€™d likeÂ that. We fail to achieve the accolades and rewards that we consider crucial to their well-being, and they end up thanking God that things didnâ€™t work out according to our shortsighted, misguided plan. Even that person who takes a bite of the Twinkie we purchased a few minutes earlier may make a sour face and accuseÂ usÂ of having bought the wrong snack.
This gives another layer of meaning to Albert Camusâ€™s assertion thatÂ â€śthose who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.â€ťÂ Our in-the-moment principles and attachments, after all, may be of no concern to our future selves inÂ theirÂ pursuit of happiness.
In the remainder ofÂ Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert, who argues that â€śthe mistakes we make when we try to imagine our personal futures are also lawful, regular, and systematic,â€ť explores the sometimes subtle, sometimes radical changes we can make in our everyday cognitive strategies in order to avoid ending up unhappy and disappointed by unlearning because we set goals for the people we are when we set them rather than the people we become when we reach them.
great tedtalk! Â dan gilbert is an excellent speaker. Â i loved his point of why we overvalue our current preferences and don't expect much change in our future selves. Â must be the ease of remembering vs the difficulty of imagining. Â boom!